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  • 1.  The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-04-2021 11:20
    Hello,
    I am thinking about doing a production of The Taming of the Shrew next year as I have the perfect student for it.  Has anyone done this on the high school level?  Are there editions out there I should be looking into or is it just a matter of cutting the naughty parts out myself.
    Thanks!

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    John Rowe
    Theatre Teacher, Advisor Washington Street Players
    Boise High School
    ID
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  • 2.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-04-2021 22:33
      |   view attached

    I produced it in a high school about six years ago. I set it in modern day Texas and it was extremely well received. The students loved it, as did audiences.

    But a LOT has changed in the last six years. I tried just reading the play in class last spring and I had several young female students voice their outrage at what they saw as a horribly misogynistic and irredeemable play that "should never be read or produced." So you might need to prepare yourself to cancelling pushback if you produce the show, depending on your community.






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    John Monteverde
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  • 3.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 10:04
    Adding on to what John M. shared, if you have a strong female type lead actress you want to feature, and you want to produce Shakespeare, I'd encourage you to look at some other options instead. (Kate actually isn't on stage that much in Shrew; the majority of the time it's the men.)

    Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night both feature strong female leads, plus other great female characters, and if there are mysoginistic issues that arise (Much Ado), they are handled well with the male character being "called out" and having to admit his wrongdoing (Claudio). 

    Especially after #MeToo, Shrew is being produced less, because it is extremely difficult to edit and produce that play while trying to get rid of the multiple issues it has, while maintaining the story and the text. 





  • 4.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 13:00
    Thanks for all the great feedback.  I should have mentioned perhaps that I'm thinking of gender swapping some of the roles, particularly Petruchio.  I have a female who has incredible range and happens to be over 6' tall.   We also currently have a fairly large transgender population in our program so that could make things really interesting.  I have already produced Much Ado... and Twelfth Night.   Trying to do as much of the canon as possible without resorting to Midsummer....
    Taming of the Shrew appeals to me for some of the same reasons mentioned by John P and Kate B.  Perhaps I'm misremembering, but I thought there were some lewd references and situations in the script.  Those are what I'm most concerned about.  I've ordered a fresh copy of the Arden edition so I'll just wait and see.
    Thanks again Everyone.
    J

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    John Rowe
    Theatre Teacher, Advisor Washington Street Players
    Boise High School
    ID
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  • 5.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 10:53
    Hi,
    I produced The Taming of the Shrew a few years ago at my all-girls school with an all female cast.  We gender-swapped the roles, playing Kate and Bianca as males, all other roles as female.  It created an interesting dynamic and really caused my students to look at ways to justify the text.  I have always looked at this play as a satire and believe if it is played with strong chemistry and attraction between Petruchio and Kate, that they are kindred spirits. This play doesn't have to be interpreted as misogynistic.  Shakespeare wrote some strong women into his plays at a time when a strong women ruled his country -- a pretty progressive voice for the Renaissance, and for today.  As with all things Shakespeare (and theater) -- it's all in the interpretation.

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    Kate Bernardo
    Drama Director
    Beaumont School
    OH
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  • 6.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 12:05
    I think the best place to start with The Taming of the Shrew is to realize it is not a knock-down, slapstick comedy. There is only one place in the script where there is any sort of violence and that is when Kate slaps Petruchio. It is a comedy of Petruchio trying to convince Kate that they are more alike than different, that they are both "outsiders", the other. While I love the Ball production, it isn't what the play is about. While Kate is "tamed" it's only because that is the way the rest of the cast thinks that actually they have bonded and joined together as two people that are alike. I think it is a great play for students to work with word-play and comic rhetoric.

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    John Perry
    Retired Theatre Teacher
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  • 7.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 13:12
    My favorite edition for all of Shakespeare is the Neil Freeman edition, Applause First Folio Editions but they are difficult to find. He takes all the editions known and puts them together in the way he thinks Shakespeare really wrote them. And he notates everything! Not much annotation but the editions make sense. I have Macbeth and Midsummer on a CD that he sent me and as you cut it, all the line numbers and footnotes adjust. Who ever put  it together was a master at using Microsoft Word! But unfortunately, he is no longer with us and I don't think the CD's are available.

    Also, the BBC Shakespeare Series (70's) Shrew video is very good.

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    John Perry
    Retired Theatre Teacher
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  • 8.  RE: The Taming of The Shrew

    Posted 12-05-2021 22:19
    As a female director and educator, I want to share one more thought that may (hopefully) provide a bit more insight: 

    There are many implied stage directions in the text of Shrew that suggest physical moments between characters (not just, but definitely including Kate and Petruchio) that can be seen as abusive, and many moments that can come across as non-consentual. There are some theatres that have recently worked really hard on redefining these moments so that consent is part of those moments; it just takes a lot of extra time and work to do so, to make it make sense and to have it still fit the text.

    If any school chooses to do Shrew, I highly encourage any director to hire an intimacy coordinator to work with the actors and director on any of those scenes that may be problematic to ensure the comedy comes through, abusive overtones aren't there, and everyone feels safe.

    Theatre Intimacy Education is a fantastic resource for this.